System for filling resealable bags
A means for retaining a resealable bag in an open position for filling purposes is described which includes a surround having an interior dimension less than a nominal width of one side of an unfilled and sealed bag. A pair of cut-outs formed into the surround are shaped and sized to guide edges of a bag during insertion into the surround, retain the upper corners of the bag to prevent axial movement of the bag once inserted, and bias the mouth of the bag in a open position to receive contents.
This application claims the benefit of Provisional Patent Application No. 61/504,338 filed Jul. 5, 2011.STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
Not applicableTHE NAMES OF THE PARTIES TO A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT
Not applicableINCORPORATION-BY-REFERENCE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISC
Not applicableFIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to means for holding a bag in an open position for filling, and more specifically to a means for biasing a freezer bag, or Ziploc® type bag in an upright and open position for filling.BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Resealable bags, also known as freezer bags or Ziploc type bags come in a variety of designs, but share the feature of being resealable between uses. Typically, such bags have a closure means such as a trough or groove on one side of the opening reversibly couplable to a ridge on the other side. This particular construction, because of the typical corrugations forming the couplable portions, results in a bag with greater stiffness and less flexibility about the opening than in other regions of the bag. The couplable portions resist crumpling, whereas the other regions of the bag crumple easily.
Various means of holding a resealable bag in an open position have been described. U.S. Pat. No. 5,275,363 to Dennis, teaches a spring loaded clamp with opposing arms that hold such a bag in an open position.
While no doubt the foregoing invention works for its intended use, it would be desirable to provide a system that could be used in various bag filling operations. It would be most desirable to provide a bag holding system that can scale from a single bag to multiple bags supported in an open position in a series.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is a system for holding a resealable bag in an open position using the natural tendency of a resealable bag to resist deformation about the opening. The invention includes at least a generally tubular surround with at least one open end, and having two opposing cut-outs or indentations at an open end of the tubular surround. While in the particular embodiment depicted herein the tubular surround is generally a cylindrical channel, it is conceivable, although less desirable that the surround be of another shape and accordingly other profiles such as an elliptical channel or rounded rectangular channel are intended to be encompassed by the present invention. Although the cut-outs of within the surrounds are depicted as typically v-shaped, other tapering shapes will suggest themselves to those having skill in the art. Accordingly, it is not intended that the surround and cut-out portions of the invention be limited to the particular shapes depicted herein.
In one aspect of the present invention, the surround is a section of cylindrical plastic tubing, channel or pipe having a inside diameter (ID) less than the width of an unfilled resealable bag as measured when the bag in a flat position. The cut-outs provide a seat for the upper corners of the resealable bag when the bag is inserted into the surround. Because the surround possesses an ID less than the bag width as described above, the bag, once inserted, is held in an open position due to biasing that occurs about the bag opening that corresponds to the coupling means when the bag is inserted into the surround. Each of the cut-outs are widest at the top of the surround and taper inwardly. The taper terminus can be somewhat rounded or a vertex of adjacent sides of the tapered cut-out. The surround can be closed at one end or open at both ends.
In another aspect of the present invention, a method is described whereby a bag is filled by initially inserting the bag into a surround by means of a plunger, whereupon the corners of the bag are seated within the cut-outs and the bag is held therein in an open position for filling.
In yet another aspect of the invention, more than one surround is grouped together by means of a frame so that multiple bags can be filled at the same time. A funneling means is positioned above the surround, with a shielding means moveable between the opening of the surround/bag and the funneling means.
In order to use the system, a surround is selected having an ID appropriate for a particular width of resealable bag, or a range of bag widths. Preferably, a chart (not shown) accompanies the system which assists in matching surrounds to bag width. The surround; either singly, or a group of surrounds, is placed on a flat surface with the opening(s) facing up. A resealable bag is inserted into the surround so that the uppermost corners of the bag are seated within the cut-outs. A means for inserting an open bag into the surround is provided for use with the system which can be a plunger 20 that is initially inserted partway into an open bag prior to insertion into the surround and after which, the bag with plunger are inserted into the surround. The corners of the bag are then retained by the cut-outs and the plunger is withdrawn leaving the bag in place. The bag may be placed on the plunger manually, or automated means (not shown) may be used to insert the plunger into the bag opening. Regarding the shape of the plunger, it is preferable that a tapered end 20b of the plunger be slightly blunted to avoid damaging the bag. Taper angle 20a can be any angle to best facilitate placement in the bag interior. The bag, now secured within the surround open position via the biasing provided by the surround can be filled. Once filled, the bag can be removed from the surround and sealed, or remain in place for additional filling operations.
The present invention provides a means for filling a plurality of bags concurrently with an identical grouping of contents. The invention is useful for concurrently packaging disparate items which are packaged together for any particular purpose; for example, packages of hardware items and fasteners used for home assembly of purchased items, candy sample bags, wildflower seeds, and for individuals having a complicated daily dose regime of medications, whereby a series of bags containing a daily dose regime can be filled at the same time with contents drawn from different containers. It is to this last use, that several non-limiting examples disclosed herein are directed.
- 12 surround
- 12a surround annulus
- 14 cut-out
- 16 resealable bag
- 18 coupling means
- 19 bag corner and seam
- 20 plunger
- 22 surround series
- 24 funneling means
- 24a funnel aperture
- 26 shielding means
- 26a shield aperture
- 26b registration slots
- 28 registration tabs
- 28a registration pegs
- w′ resealable bag width
In the following description, the term “series” refers to any number of “surrounds” greater than one, grouped or held together in a frame for filling purposes. Unless otherwise explained, any technical terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this disclosure belongs. The singular terms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. Similarly, the word “or” is intended to include “and” unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of this disclosure, suitable methods and materials are described below. The term “comprises” means “includes.” Publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein, if any, are incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes. In case of conflict, the present specification, including explanations of terms, will control. In addition, the materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting.
Referring generally to
The cut-outs taper so that the bag can be guided easily into a seated position for support and filling purposes. The v-shaped cut-outs may be perpendicular to the surround, or angled so that the dimensions of the outwardly exposed profile of the cut-out may be larger or smaller than the inwardly exposed profile of the cut-out. Preferably, each v-shaped cut-out may be chamfered toward the center of the surround so that a sharper edge is created on the exterior face of the surround, and a flared edge created on the interior face of the surround so as to accommodate the bulge created at the bag corners by the zippered opening.
An example of resistance to deformation and crumpling found in resealable bags is depicted in (
Any suitable material may be used in the construction of the surround; including, but not limited to plastics, metals, paperboard and glass. The cut-outs may be mechanically removed from a tubular member, or formed in situ by injection molding or other common processes. The invention is not limited by a particular brand or manufacture of resealable bag; the characteristics of which are generally similar enough to work well with the invention.
A series of surrounds is depicted in
Moving to the top perspective views of
While the invention has been described by the embodiments given, it is not intended to limit the scope of the invention to the particular forms set forth. Accordingly, the description herein is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
1. A system for filling a bag with a plurality of items reflecting a desired collection of items comprising:
- 1) at least one resealable ziplock type bag with a mouth, a coupling means, and a nominal width as measured when the bag is in an unfilled state,
- 2) at least one surround having a pair of cut-outs oppositely positioned and formed in an open end of the at least one surround having at least one inside diameter less than the nominal width of the bag, and wherein each cut-out defines a guide for bag insertion and a seat to loosely support an outer edge of the coupling means when the bag is fully inserted into the surround thereby biasing the mouth of the bag in an open state by inducing inside edges of the upper corners of the bag toward one another.
2. The system according to claim 1 in which the bag is inserted into the surround in an unsealed condition.
3. The system according to claim 1 in which the at least one surround creates a series of adjoining surrounds.
4. The system according to claim 1 further comprising a funneling means having apertures and solid portions between the apertures, with the apertures generally aligned with the surround openings.
5. The system according to claim 1 further comprising a shielding means having apertures and solid portions between the apertures capable of assuming an open and closed position relative to the surround openings.
6. A method for depositing a predetermined collection of items in at least one resealable ziplock type bag comprising the steps of:
- 1) providing at least one surround having at least one interior diameter of less width than the at least one bag when in an unfilled and sealed condition, and, a pair of cut-outs oppositely positioned and formed in an open end of the at least one surround, with each cut-out defining a guide for bag insertion and a seat for an upper corner of the bag,
- 2) inserting the bag into the surround so that vertical edges of the bag align with the cut-outs and upper corners of the bag are loosely retained by the cut-outs thereby inducing the upper corners toward one another,
- 3) filling the at least one bag with contents,
- 4) removing the at least one bag from the at least one surround.
7. A system for concurrently filling a plurality of ziplock type resealable bags, each with a desired grouping of items comprising:
- 1) a series of surrounds, each surround having a pair of cut-outs oppositely positioned and formed in an open end of the surround, in which each cut-out defines a guide for bag insertion and a seat to loosely retain an upper corner of the bag when fully inserted into the surround, and, wherein an inside diameter of each surround is less than a nominal width of the bag when it is in a sealed and unfilled condition,
- 2) a segregation means for visually confirming contents of groupings prior to concurrent depositing in each bag, and,
- 3) a shielding means for concurrently depositing the groupings into corresponding bags by gravity wherein the bags are maintained in an open state for filling by inducing upper corners of the bag toward one another.
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International Classification: B65B 1/04 (20060101); B65B 67/04 (20060101); B65B 1/18 (20060101); B65B 67/12 (20060101);